Tuesday, February 3, 2015

APA Applauds Senate Passage of Veterans Mental Health Services Bill

The U.S. Senate today passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, which will help alleviate the shortage of mental health clinicians in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) by implementing a pilot medical student loan repayment program aimed at attracting and retaining at least 10 additional psychiatrists per year for the next three years.

The legislation, passed by the House of Representatives on January 12, now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

“Veterans have sacrificed so much for us, and it is our most sacred obligation to provide them with the mental health care they need,” said APA President Paul Summergrad, M.D., in a statement. “APA is deeply honored to have stood shoulder to shoulder with many organizations and individuals supporting this legislation, which will make a real difference in the lives of the men and women who served our country."

The law is named in honor of U.S. Marine Clay Hunt, an Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran and suicide prevention advocate who died by suicide in 2011.

The legislation requires the VHA to report to Congress on the repayment program’s impact on psychiatric vacancies and recruitment. It will also improve the exchange of training, best practices, and other resources between the VHA and nonprofit health organizations.

For more in Psychiatric News on the Clay Hunt Act, see “Senators, Vets, Families Push VA for Better Mental Health Care.”

--aml  (Image: Bill Perry/Shutterstock.com)


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